Wednesday, February 10, 2016

"Birthing"... the Unexpected

Single Birth... to Twins and Finally to Triplets

What began as just another small easel painting, quite randomly morphed into a joyous voyage of adventure and discovery. It was a totally impromptu and unplanned metamorphosis, but in the end, it represents an artistic and personal statement that I have tried to live by and promote throughout my journey.

The single 8x10 inch birch cradle board panel in itself was a pleasing and rewarding  venture... but the more that I stared at it on the easel as it dried... the more my mind played with the notion that something remained unsaid. It was this notion that persuaded me to consider adding a second panel in a vertical position to develop the barn-scape into a farm-scape diptych to include the homestead.

That was achieved quite easily by simply paying close attention to the abutting edges... the background and to the scale of the barn to the homestead. Tonality and light also had to be carefully considered in setting up a continuum which "read " as a believable  sense of "place".

The success in achieving these first two random mutations encouraged to "push the envelope" further to explore the possibility of creating a triptych. I felt that the additional third panel would likely best be placed to the left side. The questions that remained to be considered in planning before I could proceed were size... format and subject matter. I slept on it overnight.

During my morning coffee ritual, I struck upon the idea of including a sugar shack for several reasons. First of all, the generic Ontario version... topped by ventilator would serve as a strong vertical component... along with some carefully "planted" maples to stop the eyes abruptly and thrust them upward and then back to the middle of the composition making use of branches joining the two left hand panels.

As I demonstrated yesterday,... a prelim notan ink sketch easily mapped the structure adequately enough to show the whole composition. The white chalk on toned black panel allowed me to "play" with the drawing... sans any strong worry about making mistakes or in the placement of forms.

Here is the "newborn" triptych at completion... with "all of its fingers and toes intact."

"Rural Requiem... for a Vanishing Landscape"
A Triptych oil on toned birch cradle boards
10 x 26 inches

A Triptych... or a Trilogy???

I have continued in my struggle to demonstrate throughout my life... and educational career through my pedagogy and in my consulting capacity following that the Arts are INTEGRATED. Though the language for each discipline indeed varies... the premise and the process upon which each is created... conducted and depends upon is the same. 

Whether one creates or appreciates... one is involved and appealed to through one or more of the senses. Poetry paints pictures in words. Novels create worlds... events...lives... conversations and people which transport and engage the reader for endless hours. Music in all of sits various genres from classical ... pop to opera can achieve like purposes and results. Genre depends only open opportunity or taste.

The various genres which form the discipline we call visual arts ranging from drawing... painting to sculpture can be used for the same story-telling purposes. Language for us all... commenced with telling our first stories and representing our first thoughts and emotions using our pictures. Somewhere... in early childhood education, most children cease this practice... most likely due either to poor classroom instruction, or more likely because they felt inadequate, or were belittled in their efforts.

To close out today's post, I humbly offer that this triptych above is a vehicle for telling a story that is important to me. As a matter of fact... I consider it to be a trilogy... as valid and as imaginatively created as Harry Potter. Unlike books written in English... my three graphic books are best read beginning right to left. Though the landscape lacks the presence of people... as do most of my paintings... human presence is assumed and revealed through the landscape and the man made architecture that rests upon it.

I will relate none of the details of my story to you. Let us say that this triptych-trilogy is fictional... which is partly true. I have created this "mind's scape" totally from my imagination. I used no existing physical references to create this project. The references did landscapes that I was privileged to visit. Like so many historically-significant, heritage buildings... they have simply vanished. Stolen by Modernity!

This is a sad tale... and it seems to be occurring and more often, and far faster than before."I" am a minstrel of sorts... travelling through a short space in Time... gathering bits n' pieces of the best we have achieved in our culture. I am sharing/carrying this story... and many others in each and every post and painting. I am hoping that what I record still matters... to someone. Heritage and culture define our uniqueness our sense of  meaning and our place in history.

What does this story in my triptych say to you?

I wonder...... and would love to hear from you.

Good Painting!... and Storytelling ... ALL!!


  1. I love this piece Bruce - love love love the light! And enjoying the colour and warmth. I am drawn to the horizon and thoughts of the importance of having places and spaces where the wild things are. I look at your paintings and like that I am on the edge of a wilderness... coming from a built up area there aren't many places I can go where I can be alone just to 'be'. The attraction of a big country like yours is the space. Maybe that is why I paint the sea so much.. I digress... I think it also speaks of the need for community and good neighbors in such country too for sharing good times and bad. I fear we are losing both the wild places and the community now unfortunately.

    My take and probably completely wrong...anyways for me a thought provoking painting and one I have enjoyed.

    Best wishes.

  2. Good morning!... Thanks ever so much for your visit and uplifting words!

    Digress??. Methinks not!... You are running absolutely "in parallel with my own thoughts... needs and artistic interests!

    When art "speaks"... in any genre... it has a greater likelihood to be listened to... and "heard" than political rhetoric. "I" hear "You"... loud and clear when your heart and spirit wander your seaside making art...while in search of adventure... and solitude.

    Stay your course and continue to paint ...make prints and learn! I will continue to drop by... and enjoy the treasures that you share!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  3. Good afternoon Bruce. I feel I have been on a journey with you here; both through the painting process and through the landscape. We started off looking at the barn and enjoyed the glow of the sunlight on the weathered wood, and the cool shadows on the snow on the roof. The distant islands were calling to us, but that will have to wait until the ice has cleared from the river. Instead, we wandered along the hillside and visited the farmstead, and then our interest in vernacular architecture led us to the old sugar shack. I feel we could have continued on our journey, but the light is failing and it feels colder, so instead we return to the farmstead, where the light at the windows, and the chimney smoke, hint at a warm welcome inside.

    Well done on a superb triptych, so full of light and interest, and so characteristic of your locality.

    All the best,

  4. Good morning Keith!... The triptych landscape portrayed is indeed representative of the area around Rockport... and for that matter... all of Ontario this morning.

    We were buried in our area with close to two feet of heavy snow... and to the east and into Quebec... they experienced the extra hardship of additional freezing rain conditions. Quite a mess!... Winter 2016 in one foul dump!

    Studio-bound... for two days of painting bliss! Stay tuned... HA HA!!

    Your warm "read" pretty much compares to my underlying intent when I painted it. It certainly came out of nowhere and physically
    evolved as you have described.

    Is there any greater reward... or compliment for an artist... than b to be acknowledged by a peer whom you respect for his or her own creative excellence?????

    I wonder???? Thank you Keith!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,